Book Reviews

Summerwode (The Wode 4) by J Tullos Hennig at DSP Publications

Genre Gay / Historical / Fantasy / 12th Century / Magic / Romance / Action/Adventure
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 16-May-2017

Book Blurb

The Summer King has come to the Wode...

Yet to which oath, head or heart, shall he hold?

Once known as the Templar assassin Guy de Gisbourne, dispossessed noble Gamelyn Boundys has come to Sherwood Forest with conflicting oaths. One is of duty: demanding he tame the forest’s druidic secrets and bring them back to his Templar Masters. The other is of heat and heart: given to the outlaw Robyn Hood, avatar of the Horned Lord, and the Maiden Marion, embodiment of the Lady Huntress. The three of them—Summerlord, Winter King, and Maiden of the Spring—are bound by yet another promise, that of fate: to wield the covenant of the Shire Wode and the power of the Ceugant, the magical trine of all worlds. In this last, also, is Gamelyn conflicted; specters of sacrifice and death haunt him.


Uneasy oaths begin a collision course when not only Gamelyn but Robyn and Marion are summoned to the siege of Nottingham by the Queen. Her promise is that Gamelyn will regain his noble family’s honor of Tickhill, and the outlaws of the Shire Wode will have a royal pardon.


But King Richard has returned to England, and the price of his mercy might well be more than any of them can afford....


Book Review

Wow! I think I have said it before when talking about this series, but it bears repeating. What started out as a retelling of the legend of Robin Hood – at least that is what I perceived it to be when I read the first book – has grown into an alternate fantasy world of its own. Each book adds another layer to this creation and its spiritual development. While some historical events (such as King Richard returning from the crusades) remain similar to what happened in “our” version of twelfth century history, the magic and battling religions of the ‘Wode’ series are expanding in a different direction. J Tullos Hennig is skillfully weaving medieval legends, concepts from fantasy, and her own, unique imagination into a spellbinding whole that has me breathlessly anticipating each new volume.

Gamelyn – dispossessed noble and former Templar assassin – is still facing his demons, but things are getting worse for him. He is fighting an internal conflict of epic proportions: the “heathen” beliefs he was taught as a child and his loyalty to Robyn sit on one hand, and the Christian values the church has taught him and their expectations that he deliver those magical secrets to them is on the other.  More than ever before, Gamelyn is trying to balance what his heart wants and knows to be true, and what his mind has been brainwashed into believing is right. He attempts to appease both sides, but all I can say is that his lack of a decision will cost a lot of people dearly if Gamelyn can’t figure out the right thing to do – including, by the end of this installment, Gamelyn himself.

Robyn has a pretty tough decision to make as well: the offer of a royal pardon is not to be taken lightly. But how can he trust the royal authority whose messengers have hunted him and those who believe in the old magic? How can he not go along with the proposal and expose everyone to more danger? Robyn also discovers a few new things about his past and his role in the triangle between Summerlord, himself, and Marion and it opens up a whole new set of mysteries that look like they will be explored in the next book.

There continue to be several levels of conflict to this story, and they only seem to get worse with each book. There are internal fights for each of the three main characters as they face their demons and conscience, the disagreements between them only seem to get worse with each book, and everyone is under attack from the Catholic church, the law, and the nobility and royals. There is more than enough magical and supernatural mystery to go around as well, and complications keep adding up to create an almost impossible situation for Robyn, Gamelyn, and Marion. What a ride!

If you like epic fantasy with lots of conflict between what you think is going on and what turns out to be true, if you enjoy watching the collision of different spiritual convictions that each want to become the supreme ruler of everyone’s fate, and if you're looking for an emotionally intense story with multilayered characters, no easy solutions, and one of the most aggravating and enticing cliff-hangers ever, then I can fully recommend this series. Just make sure you read these books in order, I think it’s a journey well worth taking the time to enjoy from the beginning.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by DSP Publications for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 450 pages/201882 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 16-May-2017
Price $6.99 ebook, $21.99 paperback, $21.99 bundle
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